Policymakers should consider introducing The Daily Mile to improve the health and fitness of school children around the world, according to new research led by the Universities of Stirling and Edinburgh.
The first study of the popular Daily Mile initiative – which involves children taking a 15-minute break from class to do physical activity – has confirmed it improves fitness, body composition and activity levels in participants.
The findings indicate The Daily Mile can help combat global problems such as low physical activity, high sedentary behavior, declining fitness levels and high levels of obesity.
Dr. Moran said: "Our research observed positive changes in children who participated in The Daily Mile intervention, compared to our control school where the scheme was not introduced.
"It suggests that The Daily Mile is a worthwhile intervention to introduce in schools and that it should be considered for inclusion in government policy, both at home and abroad."
The Daily Mile was founded in February 2012 by Elaine Wyllie, the then headteacher of St Ninian's Primary School in Stirling, to improve the fitness of her pupils. Children are encouraged to run, jog or walk around their school grounds during a 15-minute break from class, which is in addition to normal intervals and physical education lessons.
The research team conducted their research at two primary schools within the Stirling Council area, with 391 pupils, aged between four and 12, participating.
Each child underwent an initial assessment and then a follow-up later in the academic year. Between times, one school implemented The Daily Mile, while pupils at the other – known as the control school – followed their usual curriculum.
Children wore accelerometers to record their average daily minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) and average daily sedentary behavior.
They also had skinfold measurements taken to check body fat, and were assessed on their performance at a multistage fitness test (known as a bleep test or shuttle run), where they ran between cones 20 meters apart between bleeps.
Revealing the findings of the research during a special event at St Ninians, Dr. Brooks explained: "We observed a relative increase of 9.1 minutes per day in terms of MPVA and a relative decrease of 18.2 minutes per day in sedentary time. Children at the intervention school covered, on average, 39.1 metres more during the shuttle run, while their body composition improved too."
Dr Booth said: "Schools can help support pupils to be more active by taking part in The Daily Mile. The benefits of an active lifestyle are wide reaching and important for education as well as for health."
"By taking small steps and jogging, walking or running for 15 minutes, people can make huge changes to their health and wellbeing. We want Scotland to be the first 'Daily Mile Nation', with nurseries, colleges, universities, and workplaces joining over 800 primary schools and regularly taking part.
"I am delighted that this new research underlines what I found and I look forward to the day when every school does The Daily Mile." Susan McGill, convenor of Stirling Council's Children and Young People Committee said: "Improving children's health and wellbeing is a key priority for all schools and nurseries in Stirling.
"We are so pleased to know that an initiative started in Stirling has now been proven to have such a positive impact on the lives of so many young people."